November 4, 2018, I finished the 2018 TCS NYC Marathon in 4:28:55, but the finish is not the whole story. Let me start from the beginning.
I have entered the lottery for the NYC Marathon every year religiously since 2010. Every year I waited patiently for the lottery results to get let down when I received the email, “sorry, you have not been chosen for the NYC Marathon”.
But life is a marathon, not a sprint right? So I kept coming back despite my disappointments. It would all change in February of this year when I was on a trip to Singapore with my college friend, Katie. She excitedly announced that she was in! A lucky chosen member of society to participate in the 2018 NYC marathon! I was thrilled but then was like, “wait, what about me”? No sorry email. No golden ticket email. So I waited because no news is good news I suppose. After distracting myself touring parts of the island, I finally came back to the hotel to wind down and catch up on social media life and to my utter surprise, after 8 years of being a patient runner, I too was finally selected to be part of the 2018 TCS NYC marathon. My heart leaped for joy. I’d be running another world major marathon (4 of 6, for those keeping track) and with my bestie!
Training commenced in the summer and this year I was selected to be an ambassador for the awesome coaching group at RunRelated. So for my first ever marathon out of 11, I would be training with a coach. Coach Christy from my hometown state worked with me through the app Training Peaks to create my schedule. If you have not worked with a coach before, I highly recommend the group at RunRelated. Caring, smart and easy to work with you to help you achieve your goals while individualizing the program to fit your schedule and needs. Receiving my training schedule two weeks at a time with adjustments needed in a timely fashion, certainly reduced my stress. We shot for under 4:30 and the goal was a success!
Back to training though, I’ve battled more aches, pains, sprains, and GI distress than with any previous training cycle. I attribute this to getting a bit older each year but also, due to my own fault, I really slacked on the strength and core training that should coincide with the running program. My bad and I paid for it. Hopefully, the lesson learned for the future. So besides the physical issues, my mental game was on point. I was excited, determined and ready to bring on Marathon #11!
I planned a trip out from Luxembourg to NYC, with a quick layover in Amsterdam with my arrival the Friday evening before the Sunday race day. From the airport, I took the train and immediately made my way to the Jakob Javits Center for the expo to retrieve my bib and check out the vendors, non-showered with bags and all. New Balance was the sponsor with some high quality, not cheap race gear but outside their main set up, the expo was lacking oomph. No super deals and that late in the day no guest speakers, so I was able to fly through the venue rather quickly then head back to the Park Plaza hotel near Central Park and crash for the evening.
The Saturday before was eventful, with the jet lag I was up really early and ready to do a shakeout run at 8am with the folks at Jack Rabbit Sports in midtown hosted by Runners World Magazine and Aftershokz. From there I made my way to Brooklyn where I was invited by Jaybird Sports for a release of their new Tarah Pro Wireless headphones which last a remarkable 14 hours. I was even a part of their promotional video released on YouTube.
I then made my way back towards Penn Station to meet up with my college girls Liz, Katie, Jocelyn, and Eileen. We had lunch and laughs then walked around for a bit in Central Park to get a feel for the finish line. That night we met up with some family members and a couple of other Boston friends who made their way out to cheer us on for a family-style Italian carb load up.
After a 4am wake up call, we caught a bus to midtown that drove us 60 minutes to the start in Staten Island. Heavy security at the entrance into Fort Wadsworth brought us to a huge space to chill out 4 hours before race time on a cold morning with food and drink offered by Gatorade, Powerbar and Dunkin Donuts.
Go time! The start at the Verrazano Bridge is high energy with NY, NY blaring on the speakers and a great view of the skyline on your left. Waves broke the start into 3 groups that didn’t officially meet back up until about 5-7 km later, but with over 53,000 runners, you were constantly fighting for your running space.
Miles 2-12 kept us in Brooklyn, the most memorable part. I was told crowd support was insane and they did not let down. Wearing my name on my shirt made me feel like a celebrity as thousands of people screamed passionately for us.
Making our way into Queens for the half, we saw our friends, lifting our spirits before making our way over the covered Queensboro Bridge. Here we felt what seemed like a forever lasting incline and the mind started to say, “This is not my favorite part.”
Up next, First Ave, it seemed so long and straight for 3 miles but full of support and more space, finally, on the wide road to give a little bit of breathing room which was little to be had with the huge field size. I started to hit a wall here at mile 17 and was having some confusion, moments of nausea and starting to feel much warmer than expected on the beautiful clear day, but with water stops every mile I was able to manage my hydration.
A brief moment in the Bronx, I was starting to get my second wind at mile 21 where we re-entered Manhattan for the final 10k 🏃♀️
Continuous small, rolling hills were no joke. The end seemed pretty far as we made our way into Central Park where there were people cheering you on, it was difficult to show them a small muster of your appreciation.
A final stretch on south side Central & seeing some family members before Columbus Circle, we were at the last stretch to head back into Central Park. There was a final incline to the actually anti-climactic finish, compared to the crowd support for the first 26 miles.
Getting out of Central Park was a real b*tch. Walking north to the medal and poncho, the exit had us walking about another 2 miles to finally make our way back to the hotel while fighting with supporters and other finishers in every which direction when all we wanted was a beer.
Finally, back to the hotel with family & friends to celebrate the excitement of NYC and the marathon. An overall amazing experience but definitely challenging course. Not the PR I was hoping for but great memories that will last forever.
Recovery brought us a week on the Bahamas, a well deserved R&R before I made my way back to France. I’m so thankful for 2018.